Brian Falduto Source: Photo by Mia Isabella

EDGE Interview: Brian Falduto Moves from 'School of Rock' to Living in 'Gay Country'

Timothy Rawles READ TIME: 4 MIN.

Brian Falduto has lost none of his cuteness since his role as Billy in the movie "School of Rock" which came out over 20 years ago. He's got those same sleepy eyes and a charming perpetual smile that follows his every sentence. He doesn't look like your typical mainstream country music star, but that's the point; one doesn't need to fit into a box or follow the rules of a certain genre to partake in it.

That is a lesson that Falduto started learning back when he starred in the rock 'n' roll coming-of-age comedy. His role as Billy or "Fancy Pants" was innocuously cute. But that may have been the problem. At only 11 years old he played the part pretty much as himself which he said was a "flamboyant, eccentric, excited, sassy kid."

Sadly, he was perceived by some as an archetypical gay character, and he suffered through a barrage of undeserved backlash. At the time he didn't even know what being gay was so his innocence was destroyed and pieces of his confidence were chipped away.

Faltudo soldiered on through the years coming out in the process. He famously detailed his feelings in a 2018 essay for The Advocate. His self-esteem may have been shaken in those early years but he stayed inspired. He has also become a life coach to help those going through a tough time, something he says he still navigates through.

"I just try my best to be honest and vulnerable with people. It's really hard to be present and honest and also toxic at the same time, right?"
his song "God Loves Me Too" from 2020 is as forthright as he can be. The lyrics weave a tale about how the pious are hypocritical, preaching about love and acceptance while alienating gay people.

"Religion was kind of always right there hand-in-hand with my growing up experience," he told EDGE. "I went to a private Catholic school and I went to Protestant Church on Sunday. So I had a double dose of Christianity. That song is kind of a message to younger queer youth who maybe are feeling like I was when I was younger and just need to know that they're acceptable as they are."

That brings us to 2023 and Brian's first album "Gay Country." The first single "Same Old Country Love Song" a twist on the traditional twangy tunes about love and lager, "But this time it's about two guys," he croons before the hook, his deepened voice fluctuating throughout the melody.

"I've always loved country music," says Falduto. "I think it's the best vehicle for storytelling. And I think that's what I'm most passionate about. Also, people need to keep in mind that country music is an umbrella term. At this point, there's so many different genres that live under the umbrella of country music and we don't have the type I grew up on anymore, you know, we don't have, we don't have many Michelle Branch's anymore."

He has many unrecorded songs he has written and he hopes one day he can take some time to do them all. He stays motivated by being present and says that's when he's at his most authentic, inspiration can arise, and he likes to show up for it.

"I'm not so caught up in just my unconscious conditioning or, you know, dealing with whatever stressors are given to me that day. I think if I'm really present, then I can like, tap into my heart a little bit more, and I can remain open to whatever sources of inspiration come because when we're not present, we tend to close ourselves off," Falduto explains.

Even though he is adamant about making time for himself to write, the rest of the process requires help. "I'm not a producer. I'm slowly sort of tapping into that mindset, but I always try and like check in with the producer as well, see if this feels good for them and I think in that communicative way we come up with something together."

This year Falduto honored the queen of country, Dolly Parton, with his cover of her song "Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That," a whimsical country tune about a lingering thirst for a Lothario ex. In the video actor Dan Amboyer plays the sexy philanderer wearing "painted on jeans."

Falduto hasn't heard from Dolly yet. "If you have her contact, send it over, will you," he laughs. "I've been trying to get her attention but, you know, she's a busy lady I'm sure."

And so is he. This year he is doing a deluxe version of his album "Gay Cowboy" and going on tour.

"It's my first ever tour," he says. "We're hitting all the major markets and we're doing a lot of pride festivals," adding that his life will be a little scattered throughout the summer, but he is excited to do it."

Another thing on his list is a potential "School of Rock" reunion. Even though he had to endure bullies and harriers after it was released, his experience while filming was enjoyable, especially working with Jack Black and director Richard Linklater. The film was written by Mike White, who went on to create "The White Lotus."

"I would love to see everybody again," he says. "I think they're doing a reunion in October for the 21st because we couldn't do anything for the 20th because of the actor's strike. I think they're gonna do something in October and the theme is gonna be 'School of Rock' is old enough to drink' or something like that, I don't know, like nothing's confirmed. It's speculation."

You can find out more about Brian Falduto's tour and upcoming "Gay Country" deluxe album by visiting his website.

by Timothy Rawles

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